Art from Guantánamo


Erin Thompson in the Paris Review: “The authorities hired an art instructor, under whom detainees produced the type of earnest exercises, shaded contours of apples and empty glasses, you might expect to see in a suburban continuing-education program. Except that the detainees were working while shackled to the floor and drawing with charcoal because the authorities were afraid that pencils might be sharpened into weapons. Except that apples and empty glasses take on different meanings when they are drawn by men on years-long hunger strikes, fed by force every day. Except that each piece of art bore a stamp that reads “Approved by US Forces,” indicating that military censors had allowed the works to leave Guantánamo only after deciding there were no messages to Al-Qaeda hidden in the shading.”

Click to read Thompson’s op-ed in the Paris Review.

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